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New research: Masks do not increase body temperature during exercise in the heat

Researchers hope this study can help shape guidelines for athletes who are exercising and competing during the summer and into the fall while ambient temperatures are still high.

A new paper published in Sports Health has demonstrated that exercising in the heat with a face mask on does not significantly increase body temperature or heart rate during exercise.

Ayami Yoshihara, director of Sport Safety at the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute, tested four kinds of face mask: a surgical mask; an N95; a gaiter (which covers the neck and goes over the nose and mouth); and a sport mask. None of them significantly increased body temperature or heart rate compared to the group without a face mask, UConn said in a press release.

Participants walked or jogged for 60 minutes in a 90°F (32°C) environment at low to moderate exercise intensities. Yoshihara and her team also measured the humidity and temperature inside and outside of the face mask. They placed a sensor inside and outside of the facemasks on participants’ faces.

They found the sport mask and gaiter became significantly more humid as the materials absorbed more sweat and water vapour from exhaled air.

While participants did report a greater degree of breathing discomfort during exercise with a facemask because of the changes in humidity and temperature inside of the face mask, there was no relationship between reported discomfort and measures of body temperature and heart rate.

According to the release, Yoshihara hopes this research can help shape guidelines for athletes who are exercising and competing during the summer and into the fall while ambient temperatures are still high.

“It’s feasible and safe to use masks during low to moderate intensity exercise in the heat,” the release quoted Yoshihara as saying.

Source: University of Connecticut

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